New city budget might include $15 minimum wage

Entry level city workers currently earn $13 an hour

SAN ANTONIO – Next Thursday’s City Council vote on the 2017 budget may include a recommendation that the entry level minimum wage stay at $13 an hour for city workers, unless city staff revises that figure to $15.

A coalition led by the community activist organization COPS/Metro Alliance is asking for an hourly wage of $15 that would be phased in over three years.

“We want them to go to $14 next year and $15 dollars year after next,” said Mike Phillips, a leader with COPS/Metro Alliance, as he and others stood on the steps of City Hall Friday.

Phillips said the current $13 minimum wage came about over a three-year time period, yet it’s still not enough for many city workers to support their families.

“We don’t want to see taxpayer money being used to hold people in poverty,” Phillips said.

“Following City Council direction, we are developing several scenarios to increase our entry wage to $15 per hour over a reasonable period of time for council consideration,” said Lori Steward, the city’s human resources director.

Shirley Gonzales, who represents District 5, was among several City Council members who voiced their support at last Wednesday’s budget work session.

“I sure would like to see us get to $15 as soon as possible, whether it’s a three-year, or four-year, phased in approach,” Gonzales said.

In her briefing, Steward said to immediately implement $15 an hour would cost the city $21 million over four years. But to phase it in over that same period, Steward estimated, the cost would be about $11 million.

“I think we really need to be focused on what are the challenges here and not get caught up in national debates,” Mayor Ivy Taylor said.

“This comes from the community, from the churches, the schools and unions of San Antonio,” Phillips said. 

LINK: FY 2017 Budget (Visit Pages 73 and 74 for more information on city worker wages)

FY 2017 Proposed Budget Presentation Briefing 

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.